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The Paroissien Diaries

Ringgit and Baht for cover

MALAYSIA | Saturday, 17 March 2012 | Views [569] | Comments [2]

Thailand and Malaysia 

Kapow mother lovers 
Just out of interst, did anyone go to www.ratemyricepaddy.com
After another ridcicoulous bus journey from the Harou Valley to Dumai, we made it to Malaysia.
I had a good feeling about Malaysia and this feeling was proved correct when on the fast ferry from Dumai 
to Melaka (Malaysia) we recieved a free lunch. Boom Town: 3 bowls of fried noodles. I say three bowls because Beth didn't want hers so I ate it and the Indo lady next to me didn't want hers either. And so across the Melakan straights we went- oily, greasy noodles being stuffed into my mouth with nothing to see but hilarious loud action movies on 1980s' ferry t.v. 
Melaka was founded in the 14th Century by a Hindu prince from Sumatra who lived just across the way but came to Melaka and made a pretty good home for himself and his people. He made such a good home for himself that other people wanted to take it and own it.
Such it was that in 1405 the Chinese came peacefully and protected it, unfortunately in 1511 in came the Portuguese and smashed it to pieces, took control and built a rather nice fort to protect its harbor. However, in came the dutch to gank Melaka a little
more in 1641 and knock down that lovely fort that the Portugese built. It wasn't over then though cause in came those pesky British in 1795
to lay claim over the area and hilariously to rebuild that lovely Portugese fort- which unfortunately didn't really last till 2012. (Don't take any of this history as gospel). 

So, as a result of such an amazing tumultous history, melaka has evovled into an incredibly cool place in which the architecture blends colonial history from all over the globe,
with a population of people that seemingly resemble three countries; Indo/Malaysian, Indian and Chinese. 
Off the boat we stepped and once we got that stressful immigration out of the way (i'm always thinking they're going to say no or, worse, find a kilo of planted herion in my bag) 
we found a well civilised society going about their day. We were stoked to find free public loos, clean streets and no gaping holes in the seweridge pipes. in fact, it was all so easy 
in that first 2 hours (people spoke English, no one tries to rip you off)  that we didn't quite know what to do. 

There in front of us was a chinese temple, a hindu temple, a mosque and a Church all standing together in seeming harmony. Had we reached utopia? No. The beers were 
heaps more expensive than in Indo. Regardless, in a symbol of just how well everyone got along, we saw a Chinese fruit stall owner offering a chinese blessing to the Hindu god procession. Harmony.
or this lady is just covering all her bases for the afterlife...
    Melaka was always going to be great and we knew this from the boxed text in the guidebook which outlined exactly what we needed to do there: eat. Top 5 things to do in Melaka:

1.Eat local Nyona pinapple tarts
2.eat local Nyona Curry Laksa
3. Eat local nyona huge fricken awesome springrolls (I added the adjectives) 
4. Eat Malaysian snow cone (not your typical snowcone. see below.) 

5. Eat something else- not sure what.   
So that first night we set out to find some of the delicious treats reccommended and got as far as little India and gave up search. Little India wasn't your gimmickly little street with a western
curry house, little india was 100% like being smack bang right back in the middle of Mombai. Women in wicked bright orange Saris and men strutting round in fluro blue shirts with bad ass moustaches all
speaking Hindi and eating delicious curries with their hands. I lost my composure and took control of the ordering- 3 of these, two of those, 1 of those and we'll keep the menu just in case oh and a couple of those lovely
chai tea masalas, extra sugar. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmy! South India cuisine coming out of our ears, pepped up on sugar we walked the old colinial streets till our bellies could rest and hit the sack. satisfaction. 
The next day we woke to the sounds of trumpets and drums and fire crackers and a whole lot of carry on down the street. We were mildly interested but laziness got the best of us and we went back to sleep. Being the Intreprid travellers we are, we got up two hours later to investigate and found, on a random Tuesday morning, a full blown Hindu god procession. when i say 'found' i mean it had started at 7.00am outside our window, and by 9.00am the huge Hindu god deity being pulled by two Buffalo had gone about 300 metres down the street, no doubt impeded by trying to dodge cars, bikes, people and low hanging telephone wires. And although the 12 km procession was going to take a while, no spirits were dampened by the pace with drummers drumming and people smiling, eating, drinking and walking their way to enlightenment. (wrong religion I know but it sounded good)  
Beth and I totally high fived for taking the risk and sleeping in! 
Further high lights of Melaka 
- Bird watching in the park- yes we are still going with this one. Tick off 5 birds thank you very much.

- The history museum of Melaka- Not bad but coffee needed before and after. Ammusingly we shared the museum that day with university students who were doing a tourism degree, " Can we interview you sir" x 6 By the end of the session I could answer all their questions for them without them asking, which they thought was extrodinary. Name, Age, Nationality, Profession, Status (married!), how much money I earned ( I suppose this isn't a faux pas in malaysia) what i thought of the public loos, how many days do I stay in Melaka, and a yes I will happily have a photo with you. done. 
- Cendol. Malaysian Ice/snow cone. These guys go crazy for this stuff which contains shaved ice, noodles, sweet corn, beans, red jelly, black jelly, condensed milk, syrup, and some sort of green juice. Sounds gross, looks gross, tastes amazing and wierd, maybe more wierd than amazing. 
- Buying beer from grandpa across the street from our hostel. Investigations for the chepaest beer in town led me to some awesome old guy's house where he sat in his front room, in his boxer shorts and vest, watching Chinese soap operas with his younger brother. " Aghhhh permisi, excuse me, do you sell beer? Sorry just thought I'd ask." "Yes yes, we sell, we sell, Tiger / Carlsberg?" "Umm which is cheaper?" "Same same." "Okay Tiger please." At which point he got on his zimmer frame and zoomed over to the fridge, got the beers and then gave me his change from a tiny hidden pocket in his boxer shorts! Awesome! We became quite close after that, having chats about purple fanta and cigarettes and me just wanting beer. good times 
- Wicked hostel where we sat and drank and listened to tunes. Chill winston. 
- Curry laksa for $1.50. boom
- And wait for it- Satay Sauce Fondue! This restaurant had a pot of bubbling satay suace in the middle of the table and you went to this fridge where you picked up some skanky looking meat and vegies 
and tofu and more skanky meat and then just popped them in bubbling SATAY SAUCE! What more could you ask for in life than bubbling fondue satay sauce. As predicted I ate far to much- Beth ate bread and some greens
as that was the only thing on offer. rest assured I had an awesome time. what will they think of next eh? satay sauce fondue...
Port Dixon 
Going to Port Dixon was a risky move because in the book it said it was ordinary, but the twitchers in us couldn't deny the fact that the place was a resting place for over 300,000 migratory birds and that March was when 
it was all happeneing. So we packed our bags and bused it out to the only cheap place on the beach called 'Rotary Sunshine Camp'. I can tell you now that it has been some time since the sun has shone on that place. Haha good times though cause it was cheap and the lady who ran it was super cheerful. Although it did concern us when she specifically told us to take our valuables everywhere we go- including the toilet. I had visions of losing the ipod down the drop dunny in a fit of misbalance- so when it came down to it, I had beth mind the stuff while I focused solely on the task at hand. 
Arriving in the afternoon we quickly jumped on a local bus and headed to the national park, binos, bird book, walking shoes and a pocket full of enthusiams to catch some freakin eagles or something. With a low opinion of Port Dixon it was wicked to get into the national park which was beautiful and green and well kept. The fresh air and the packed lunch meant our spirits rose and so off we went to see some birds. unfortunately what the book forgot to mentioned was the 50 million migratory mosquitoes that also inhabited the national park which totally ruined the experience. Stand still for more than 10 seconds and cloud  mossies was on you like the proverbial bad suit and within a second the bird watching was kaput, ruined, stuffed. Seeing birds in a jungle is difficult enough, when you're running on the spot and randomly slapping yourself it's near impossible. So went home. Amateurs. All was good though when we went out and had a vegetarian soup (with chicken) and a couple of games of 'mystery biscuit'. hmmmmm sweet corn flavour.
Three things that will ruin anything no matter what it is, how beautiful it is, how old it is, how spectacular. 
1) A hang over/ sick 
2) Being too hold or cold
3) Mosquitoes/ bugs/ sand flies 
Kualar Lumpur
We were lucky enough to find outselves in a big city with more friends we could rely on. This time it was Becs and Steve- long time family friends of Reeves, from Cornwall but who had recenctly moved out to Malaysia. As
all expats are, they were well keen to have a couple of dirty backpackers eat all their food, use their shower and washing machine and regale them with great stories. Steve and Becs were brilliant, taking us out for numerous dinners and lunches and showing us the sights of KL. 
Highlights include 
- Lovely botantical gardens 

- Hot water, lush home made food, brilliant dog, great company
- A filthy fish and egg stick that makes me want to throw up thinking about it now. Yuk! 
- A very civilised market with all your favourite rip offs and good times. 

- My favourite moment was stubling across a fruit stall run by an elderly Chinese woman who had grown tired of hawking her wares and instead of shouting out her daily bargains had simply shouted very loudly into a boom box, recorded her 
banter, and put it on repeat, all day, all night, without the risk of loosing ones voice. Brilliant 
- A saturday night to remember at thise outdoor chinese food market which served plate after plate of rice, chicken, pork, beef, prawns, calamari, more meat and some unidentified meat and
a vegi dish of ill repute- who doesn't eat meat? I dont think there is a word for vegetarian in the Chinese language. Either way it was blast, 6 expats and beth and I chowing down on good food and sinking cold
tiger beers. Although at one point the threat of rain meant we were sitting under canvas umbrellas for 2 hours as the sweat condensated on the umbrella above. Great times. 

- Sunday trip to the Batu Caves. Not that Bat caves unfortunatly, cause that would have been way cooler. The Batu caves are a set of caves where there is an ancient hindu temple. Unfortunatly I had a hangover (reason number 1, remember?) and so I was too busy freaking out over three of my most hated things in life which all accumulated at the top of some 300 steps to the top; aggressive monkeys, filthy pigeons and skanky,chickens. Poor, freaked out, anxious Para was out of those Batcaves before you could say "Holy smoke Batman" 

All the same the caves were lovely but they would have to wait for another day before proper examination.
And so after a pretty awesome lazy Sunday we said our thank yous and our good byes and Steve dropped us off at the station for our train to Bangkok.  
I don't know if we're getting softer but the thought of two full days on hard wood seats just didn't quite sit right after the last mission of 48 hrs and so we'd pre booked 2nd class sleeper seats to Bangkok. Soft? 
Absolutely not, genius, awesome, fantastic maybe but soft...no. If you have ever slept on a train horizontally then put it on the bucket list. The only other similar feeling I can compare it with is the relaxed feeling you get when you're sleeping inside when it's raining outside. The slow gentle rock of the train as you snuggle into the clean crisp sheets and watch the world go by outside is totally relaxing and unreal. Beth and I spoke a few words before our separate curtains we closed and it was good night Irene- outies, chocolates. 
Unfortunately 6.30 rolled around far too quickly. We were due to stop at a place called Buttersworths (cool name, nothing there) at 6.30 but for some reason I had a sneaking suspicion that the train wasn't stopping there for long. Well, panic struck as we rolled into the station and Beth wasn't out of bed yet, which I unfortunately then may have, just may have had a dip at her for still being in bed and not making our stop before she tiredly and sternly put me in my place. "This is the last stop darling, the train is going no where." Oh, sorry, my bad." 
What was fortunate was that Buttersworth was the port mainland right next to Penang, and so after a few coffees and a quick nap on the station floor we headed across to the old British colonial island. we spent a lovely day admiring similar things to Melaka, ie, the china town, little India, colonial buildings, Chai tea and some uber clean parks. Our packed lunch was consumed in front of the fort called Cornwallis which had something to do with Cornwall but I wasn't really listening, regardless of this it was all so civilized. well done Penang. 
And so back to Buttersworth we went to catch the 2.40 train to Bangkok. With the 22 hour train journey ahead of us secured in comofrotable seats, all should have been fine and dandy, I however was a tad stressed about the border crossing. Asian border crossings and immigration are always stressful no matter what. I dont think anyone can not have little worry about being planted with 10 kilo's of heroin and being holed up in a Bangkok prison for 12 years, it's just natural. On top of this regular worry though was the stress that we didn't have onward tickets out of the country, a requirement to get into the country. We had only realised this at 10pm the night before and despite furious attempts to book a bus out of the country in 30 minutes, weren't able to do it. Thus despite the incredible beauty of the west coast of Malaysai that rolled slowly past us, the thought of being stuck in some border town niggled me. 
So here's the scene. It's 9.15pm, there's been no food on the train all day and so we haven't eaten anything in 7 hours and we're tired. The delayed train finally gets to immigration and everyone jumps out. I'm feeling pretty good because they tell us to leave the bags in the train, phewwww, not 12 yr jail sentence. I'm pretty smelly and dirty. I'm wearing my blue thongs, filthy blue shorts that have holes in them and have had the pockets ripped out of them, a black hoody with rice stains and so forth which is concealing an even dirtier blue t-shirt, my hair is long and I have may I so so myself an absolute primo beard on the go. So, tired, dirty,hungry and worried about onward tickets we enter into immigration. After getting through the Malaysian side unscahed we walk a few metres and get in line for the thai side. There on the wall on a huge sign says: 

Aliens who have 'hippy' appearance will be denied entry into the Kingdom of Thailand under section 16 of the immigration act. 

We consider people with these features as those as hippies. 

- Long hair that is untidy and shabby 
- Wearing a singlet and no other clothing on top
- Shorts that are untidy or inappropriate 
- Sandals or wooden sandals that aren't part of national costume
- Have Under $1000 dollars to their name
At first I thought this was hilarious because they were pretty much describing every other Australian that had traveled through S.E Asia since the 70's. 
Then it dawned on me that I completely and utterly fitted the bill of a 'hippie'. Shitttttttttttttttttttttttttttt, no outward ticket and im a fricken hippy. 
I madly started brushing my hair with my hand, rolled up my shorts, scratched the rice stains off the hoodie and waited as coolie as possible. It was made worse when I noticed the 
immigration guy making people take two steps away from the glass, eyeing up potential victims. Beth amusingly commented about a guy wearing an all bright orange ensemble, true he looked 
silly but he wasn't a hippie. And just like that, well after I'd built a solid case about my thongs being a part of my national costume, the guy stamp stamped me and I was through. 

Dinner on the train was chaos but we didn't care- shortly after I got out my clothes that I had packed for Siberia and layered up- the A/C had stepped up a notch. One has to wonder who their target audience for this A/C
really is? Anyway,with hippie attire discarded and thermal underwear on, I played Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and lay awake thinking how good lying down was. I awoke to Beth's groans from the bottom bunk, "Darling, you better get down here quick." What's wrong?" "Nothing, but quickly, I've seen 6 new birds, 6!" 
This bird watching thing was getting out of hand. And so with horrible cold eggs and nasty processed ham we rolled triumphantly into Bangkok!  

Bangkok- Highlights reel. 

- The biggest highlight was staying with Lauren Richardson, a good family friend from home who is working for the Aus gov't in Bankok and has a pimping apartment 30 floors up. The apartment was so nice that in fact I didn't want
to leave. 
- Dinner in a plush restaurant with Lauren looking over the city and drinking gin and tonics. Can't help but be pleased about this highlight. 

-Getting our Chinese visa's. There was a time there when we thought it wasn't going to happen but the Chinese came through with the goods. Great work China. Amusingly if you're American and you want a visa for China you have to pay double what anyone else pays and fill in twice as many forms. Ouch. Is there some history i'm missing here? 

- Buying a new pair of non hippie shorts. Travelling with one pair was a touch ambitious. 

- Watching TV is just that much fun when you haven't done it for a while.

-  Massive walking tour of the city which included train rides and ferry's down the river. A visit to the King's palace and a walk down memory lane with a visit to old Kha Saon road. Heaps of street food including battered coconut and  condensed milk and pad thai for 90 cents. 

- A visit to a local thai restaurant where we gauged out and spent $25. This is a particular achievement considering that meals are roughly $3 each- it was silly, it was awesome. For the record Dad, we had a crack at the Tom Yum soup and like you said it was hot- super freaky deaky hot. It was so hot for Beth she finished a whole long neck in under 4 minutes- which didn't really do much except make her drunk- 

- A session in the local cooking school. Still full from the previous nights dinner we traipsed off to the market to meet our teacher at 9.00. Met our follow students and had an education about Thai spices and herbs. I quickly realised why exactly my Thai/ Asian cooking attempts failed. " ohhh so there is a difference between Thai basil and normal basil hmmm" 
We made 5 dishes and hilariously on the cooking hob next to me was an Israeli guy who had finished third in Master Chef Israel. How cool is that? I was a little intimidated by his flashy wok moves, I wanted to try some of his moves but I didn't want to lose a prawn over the side and so stuck to good old stirring with the wooden spoon. Regardless of the famous person next to me, we had an awesome time learning how to cook Tom Yum soup, pad Thai, Thai chicken salad, green curry and sweet banana coconut. 

Alrighty, so that's about it for now. 

Off to Cambodia next. 

Love love 



So enjoyed travelling through Malaysia with your wonderful descriptions - dad has just gone to Prahran market to buy duck - perhaps he will cook Thai!!
PS Can I correct your spelling - eg gauged sounds like it might be 'gorged' - ha ha ha.
No idea where this message goes!!

  Barb Paroissien Mar 17, 2012 7:44 AM


Mate, loving the blog. Keep it up!

  Kai Apr 15, 2012 2:59 PM

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